It’s no secret that kids love social networking sites like Facebook. But a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that many of those kids aren’t supposed to be there at all. It turns out that tens of thousands of them are too young to be lingering in this cyber-hangout. The report says that 46 percent of 12-year-olds in the United States are on Facebook despite the fact the social media site expressly prohibits anyone under the age of 13. The problem with that, of course, is that all a young person has to do is lie about his or her age. And, apparently that’s what a lot of them do. In fact, the Daily Telegraph in Australia reports that Facebook is kicking some 20,000 youngsters off the site a day.
A recent Australian study suggests that many kids don’t understand the legal risks of social networking sites such as Facebook. Thirty percent of Victoria, Australia middle-grade children surveyed did not believe there was any legal liability associated with social media sites. Legal risks include potential defamation and harassment, among others. With more than 93 percent of kids regularly using Facebook, and 73 percent of students surveyed reporting “unwelcome” contact by strangers through social networking sites, researchers recommend integrating social media education into school curricula. “Little attention has been given to the potential legal risks that children and young people may face when using social networking sites,” said Dr. Michael Henderson, a co-author of the study. You can read the full report here.
A new “Find Help” application on Facebook may make it easier for teens to not only report cyberbullying but also to find support organizations. Mashable.com reports that a company called SafetyWeb.com,has introduced the new app to address growing concerns about teen safety on the social networking site. According to CBC news, the “Find Help” application is similar to an online list of emergency phone numbers. When a child clicks on the application, he or she is directed to phone numbers and links for reporting incidents. This also sends kids to organizations like the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and Facebook’s abuse reporting process. Since 2003 there have been at least 12 teenagers who commited suicide because they had been bullied online.